The NBA playoffs always tends to produce the unlikeliest of heroes. Role players like Andrew Toney, John Paxson, and Sean Elliott will forever live on thanks to memorable performances for championship teams. Recently we’ve seen guys like Daniel Gibson, Mike Miller, and Danny Green have unbelievable performances on the biggest stages.
The Lakers have had their fair share of guys step up. Robert Horry and Derek Fisher have made their respective careers based on coming up in the clutch. Most recently it was Ron Artest hitting game winners and clinchers for the playoffs.
But as far as Laker history goes, there may be no unlikelier playoff hero than Kareem Rush, whose hot hand carried the Lakers to the 2004 NBA Finals.
Rush was a second year guard for the Lakers who played less than 20 minutes per game during the regular season and averaged less than seven points, shooting just under 35 percent from three point range. None of that mattered on May 31, 2004.
The Lakers went into Game Six of the Western Conference Finals against reigning MVP Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves needing a win to avoid heading back to Minneapolis for a Game Seven on the road. With Kobe Bryant having an off night, Rush stepped up to the challenge.
Rush would hit six consecutive three pointers, scoring 18 points to lead the Lakers to a 96-90 win and another trip to the NBA Finals. With each shot he put up you could feel the anticipation and excitement rise in Staples Center. It was obvious by the final jumper that this would be the Lakers’ night and Rush would be the hero.
On this Throwback Thursday, Lakers Nation remembers the most unlikely of playoff heroes, Kareem Rush, and his outstanding shooting night to lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals.
Relive the exciting moment below: